[Dazed & Confused #종현 Interview Translation]
Translated by @cosmicsticks
Please do not use or remove any of my translations without credit.
(Sorry for the awkward phrasings here and there!)
Q: You're over half of your 20s. Has anything changed?
A: Because I was born in 1990, I became exactly 26 years old. Although many people will feel it, there doesn't seem to be major changes even when the year changes. I thought there will be major changes when I become 20 years old. But it wasn't that way. Actually, I've never tried to anticipate being 25 year old. Because I'm starting something new this year, something has changed.
Q: Are you talking about your solo album?
A: It wasn't because I thought that I should do solo activities because I'm at that age now. I didn't feel rushed at all because I'm going to do music for my lifetime and to do that a solo album is necessary. But I released an album faster than I expected. In March, SHINee will also hold a stand-alone concert in Tokyo Dome for the first time. There are a lot of first-time experiences this year.
Q: You started doing music through playing the bass. Why the bass out of so many music instruments?
A: When I was in my second year of high school, I vaguely wanted to join the band department. Because it appeared cool. But when I was in my first year, they're in the state where they already have a member, only the bass position was left. Even though I started out that way, if I hadn't been interested, I wouldn't have been able to proceed. Bass is a very charismatic music instrument. Although it is not fancy, it has a position whereby it extends a large amount of influence on music. Without the bass, you'll know how uninteresting music will become.
Q: I'm curious about the band name.
A: It's Zion (시온). Even though I'm not a Christian, it was a Christian-style name because I was in a Catholic school. When Zion.T-hyung saw it, he went "Oh!"
Q: What kind of child were you at that time?
A: I learnt Kendo. Most children are like that, having wanted to make something from the field that they are part of and are interested in, come true. My mother ran a record store, and she like singing. It's not like if I were actually sent to a piano academy I would live on playing the piano, so I wondered why I was sent to an academy. I entered a Kendo competition, and I thought I'd become an athlete, but I started taking interest in music. That's why I played in a band and became an S.M Entertainment trainee.
Q: Is there music that makes you determined?
A: It was a time when everyone around me was crazy over H.O.T's music. Naturally, I frequently listened to popular music, and as I saw how I sang, I thought it was cool, and I came to like singing along with songs. As I became a middle school student, I experienced puberty musically. I came to look up music and listen to them as I developed a distinct taste, including The Neptunes, Darkchild, and Babyface. The time I liked was about 5 years after the golden age, when I can conveniently hear a refined core when the waves of the trend died down. As my interest in genres such as electronic, disco, and punk widened, I liked Jamiroquai or TOP. The songs that I listened to when I was young still reigns over me.
Q: How about the things that makes up Jonghyun's music?
A: The songs that were written long ago are included in the album. My senses recently are very different from the feelings of the songs that I wrote in the recent year. I'll be able to show these songs to you later. The album this time involves a lot of collaboration. The parts that were created as I imagined working with someone lack a match from when I actually create the songs. And I was impressed by their abilities, which made up for the parts that I couldn't imagine as I worked with other musicians.
Q: In the title song 'Crazy', Iron's rap was included. It appears to be an unexpected choice.
A: ‘Crazy’ was a song that was first suggested by the company. I thought of it as a song that the majority would enjoy when they hear it, rather than as my musical style. It's uninteresting for me to show off music that centers around me, or only things that I want to do. For example, I have a can. The contents inside it is me. Even though the exterior packaging is also important, anyway, you still have to open up the contents and show them off. When I think about how to show that off, it's most appropriate to do so through the title song, ‘Crazy’.
Q: How was it working with Iron?
A: I didn't know Iron is that young. Because he does so well (laughs). It was to the extent that the recording that was done just once could be used. A song that is made after singing the same song twice and overlapping them, is termed doubling. Raps usually make use of doubling but Iron does it once. It was cool to have his voice come out singly and plainly and he looked confident. I also wanted to match my breath well with Iron's rap, I arranged the melody through adlibs and completed the song. The most important thing is that the rap was there not to make my song appear better but to create a fine end product. Even though it's the same for whichever work, if it does not suit the song, the intention is to not include it no matter how cool it is.
Q: I heard you coincidentally met Zion T. at the tailor's shop.
A: He's a musician that I really like, and we frequent the same tailor and met coincidentally. We were talking about music and we vaguely made a promise to do music together. He gave suggestions as we were preparing the solo album and he participated enthusiastically. I didn't intend to sing ‘Deja-Boo’ and it was a song that was originally made while I kept in mind a person who can digest hip-hop well.
Q: You always counted Wheesung as a musician you respected right?
A: That's right. We usually speak to each other a lot and also sing cover songs. After the production of the solo album was decided, he was the very first person I ran to and pestered to work together. I was stubborn, but he gladly worked with me. We made "Hallelujah" as we had daily exchanges. I thought that it was surely about a romantic love story if it's a song that the both of us are working together on. It's a song that talks about it being luck that I'm born, and also to thank the other person for being born. There is also a part filled with respect and that pays homage to one of Wheesung-hyung's song called "Masterpiece of You", which reflects the love and value for females. In the verse, the lyrics ‘masterpiece of you’ are included. It would be great if you could look at this part interestingly.
Q: Is there a special reason why you chose Younha's voice?
A: The lyrics of ‘Love Belt’ are really light. Apologies are apologies but it is filled with more confusing feelings. You become sad if I say "let's cry", but it's a song that becomes cold to no end if it's sung too lightly. So I was troubled a lot by who should sing it. Through Epik High's "Fighting Again", I heard Younha-noona's voice, despite her lightly rough pronunciation, the feelings that filled her breathing was soft. I sent her a message and her reply came immediately. Of course I shouted "Hallelujah"! In the case where Younha-noona couldn't sing it, this song would probably be left out from the album.
Q: Despite working with other musicians, was there a part where you kept in order not to lose your own direction?
A: In the beginning, it was my aim to work with other musicians and release an album. If not for that, it was to the extent that I thought there was no need for me to release a solo album. When I heard the concept that the company proposed, I even said that if I can't go the direction that I thought of going, then I must as well do a unit (project). At the end of much discussion with the company, it became an album that I could participate in from many directions. I could release a solo album quickly all thanks to the company which accepted and listened to my ideas. In one word, it's stubbornness. And also, things that can be enjoyed.
Q: For example?
A: Like fixing a puzzle, it's filled with interesting things that makes you search for the hidden link. If you watch a Marvel Comics film, there is a necessary cookie video. It's a bonus video that appears suddenly, after the main film ends and when you think that it has all ended after the credits have rolled. I got the idea from there, and made a cookie track. The title is 'Fortune Cookie', and it includes an audio that I recorded in the most comfortable space at home, as I lay on my stomach. You will be able to hear a significant composition of the album this time.
Q: It's been a long time since I got reminded of the joy that can only be gotten when listening through an album.
A: I made a track that you can't listen to if you don't buy the album, but it wasn't an intent to directly make people buy my album. Although I don't want to acknowledge it, the situation of the music market is really bad. As someone who is with and in the music market, it becomes a concern. Despite knowing that it won't do, I dislike that even I am not doing anything. I made it thinking that it'll do if someone buys the album after seeing the tiny joy like the cookie track. I'll really be happy if such a small effort can revive the music market.
Q: Who did you think you wanted to gift your album to the most when your album is released?
A: My mom and sister, the SHINee members, and the people who participated in the album. Isn't my answer a given? But if it's not that these people are related to the promotion, I'm the type who doesn't give out albums easily. No matter how close that person is to me, I tell them to buy it. It won't do if my friend says to go to the restaurant and naturally asks to be treated every time.
Q: I thought that the project where you make listeners' stories into songs is very Jonghyun-like.
A: It was a project that I have personally always wanted to do it, but it (my aspirations) became wider as I am connected to the radio program "Blue Night I Am Jonghyun". I dealt with it while thinking of becoming a good storyteller, understanding and reinterpreting the feelings of the people who sent in their stories, and making music that allows them to nod their heads to. Having listened to someone's story and writing a song that matches it, I came to accurately study it and it was good to be able to create something worth being a memory to the listener.
Q: Eventually, you are like a lyricist.
A: I give it a title and I make a song. I compose after I arrange the stories that are derived from the title. Because the lyrics are the focus, there are many people who find it intriguing, but if the lyrics are not completed perfectly, I can't create the song. I like fantasies, so if I have any interesting ideas, I'll be sure to write them down on a memo. I also like not romantic movies, but romantic stories.
Q: What is the line in 'BASE' that stays in your mind the most?
A: It's a line that goes 'What's written on the paper inside the cookie?' in 'Fortune Cookie'. The anticipation before breaking a fortune cookie, like the feeling when you break it, I'm curious about the feeling people get when they listen to my album.
Q: Do you read books or watch movies a lot?
A: My sense of sight and hearing are sensitive while my sense of touch is the dullest. I really like watching movies, especially animation. Because it is easy and it kindly deals with rewarding the good and punishing the evil such that it's comfortable for kids to watch. I think that there should be something on Earth like the good should thrive and the bad should perish. Even if realistically that cannot happen, I really like that in animations, it protects one's own innocence and ideals. Although you may ask 'What does an adult like so much about such a thing?', I don't feel embarrassed (laughs).
Q: I saw that you wrote on Twitter that it'll be good to have the generation when people don't read emotional posts as a joke, again.
(T/N: For your reference, it's this tweet here: https://twitter.com/realjonghyun90/status/523521812697595904)
A: Making it a little obvious that it's hard, and more positively expressing something happy, it'd be good if people don't make fun of that by calling it emotional. I also don't think it's right that if you speak indifferently and have an attitude of sneering while pretending that it's cool. Every person has his own feelings and senses, it is uncomfortable to see people take sides and fight to condemn each other.
Q: The Jonghyun on Twitter feels friendly.
A: Obviously there will be people who dislike that. Of course as an entertainer, I act carefully on broadcasts and performances, but if I have to act in accordance to the likes of someone even on SNS, then that is really sad. The thoughts that I write on Twitter and the interests are the closest to me.
Q: Among your new year resolutions, are there things that you fulfilled and things that you could not?
A: I planned not to have new year resolutions. Because if I pledge to do something, then indeed there seems to be many things of which I have stopped, to pledge about. But even if it's nearby, I have said to try going on a holiday, so I'm thinking if I should go on a holiday this year.
Q: Please say a well-wishing remark to yourself.
A: It would be good if you enjoyed it. Even if in an impossible situation, please enjoy it and come to like it even more, or else, if you maintain a feeling as if you're going to go crazy.
Translated by @cosmicsticks
Please do not use or remove any of my translations without credit.